1991’s criminally under-appreciated Impromptu, and Robert Altman’s Oscar-winning Gosford Park surely hinted at it. But 2018’s The Favourite—which nabbed ten Oscar noms and one win—decisively proved that comedy and poncey period costumes could be strange but ultimately riotous bedfellows.
Now follows the original Hulu period-comedy series The Great, in which Elle Fanning stars as the most exalted Russian ruler ever, Catherine the Great (thus, the title), with what promises to be a deliciously dry sense of humor. Nicholas Hoult plays her bumbling, feeble-minded husband Peter III, one of Russia’s most well-documented imperial embarrassments. He reigned for just six months, before Catherine staged a coup, and was then free to take the throne, and storm the pages of history.
Curiously, it follows quickly on the heels of HBO’s also pithily titled Catherine The Great, in which Helen Mirren played the empress later in life, and with a much more pronounced sense of gravitas (as well as a more caustic wit). But in the first trailer for Hulu’s latest entry in the historical romp sweeps, Hoult’s Peter is seen Trumpishly claiming, “I am the most beloved ruler in all of Russian history…don’t worry about the bodies.”
Fanning’s Catherine rightly counters, “I’m a prisoner here, married to an idiot.” Sound familiar?
Episode 1 of The Great is scheduled to debut May 15 on Hulu.